Reading 1: Sirach 27:30—28:7
Reading 2: Romans 14:7-9
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Our Lives Belong to the Lord
In the second reading this Sunday, St. Paul tells us that, as true Christians, we don’t live for ourselves. It’s an idea that can become lost or forgotten during the normal course of our lives in this day and age. Yet when a horrible tragedy occurs, this idea can often become a manifest reality. The tremendous outpouring of support for the victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters, for example – support in the form of time, treasure, talents and prayers – is an incredible example of this.
As St. Paul reminds us, a true Christian lives for the Lord. We are His hands and feet in the world today, and the Spirit works through us to build the Kingdom on earth. For when we live for the Lord, we are also putting the needs of others before our own. Oftentimes that means we can’t take the easy way out, and instead we do the right thing, even though it’s the harder thing to do.
It’s Hard to Forgive
Many people think that it’s hard to ask to be forgiven, but in reality it’s much harder to actually forgive someone else. We know our own feelings, so we know when we’re sincere. We also know when we’ve learned our lesson. So when we ask for forgiveness at times like that, we truly feel that we deserve to be forgiven. Because of this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that people must “deserve” to be forgiven in order for us to do so.
One problem with this line of reasoning is that we can never really know the mind of another, so we can never really know if the person is sincere. And because transgressions that need forgiveness almost always involve our emotions, it’s very easy to err on the side of assuming the worst. In fact, most of us could very easily compile a list of people (or groups of people) who we don’t think deserve to be forgiven.
We are Called to Forgive
We don’t forgive because we think that someone deserves it. And we don’t forgive because we’re nice people. We forgive because we have been forgiven. Jesus points this out very clearly in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Our Father has forgiven us, so we must do the same to others. One of the greatest things we can do to emulate Christ is to allow God’s forgiveness to flow through us. It is also a very convincing witness to others of the merciful grace that can only begin with God.
We are the hands and feet of the Body of Christ at work in the world today. And just as people rarely hesitate to step forward and help the victims of natural disasters, we mustn’t hesitate to step forward and offer forgiveness to one another. After all, we shouldn’t live our lives for ourselves. We should live our lives for the Lord!
Why is it so difficult to forgive some people?
When has it seemed that someone has taken advantage of your forgiveness?
What else can be done to share God’s merciful grace with others?
Original article by Brandon Jubar, 2005 – 2020.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.